RE: Why WYSIWYG for XML???

Subject: RE: Why WYSIWYG for XML???
From: Chris Despopoulos <cud -at- telecable -dot- es>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 21 May 2004 09:19:12 -0700

Two questions:

1) Before these folks had WYSIWYG systems, how was it done?

Ok - wild speculation (I'm no historian)

1) Thunderbolts, burning bushes, and other mythological (or not), mystical means

2) Chisel & stone, clay tablets

3) Quill, paint, gold leaf ilumination, papyrus

4) Gutenberg (maybe) - on to other more sophisticated glyph-in-a-box setting - original content done in quill

5) Automated setting machines - typewriters, perhaps slaves typing in hand-written texts before sending them to typesetters. The texts probably included instructions or other indications of hierarchy.

6) Word-processors (char based) to produce the type-set input. Varying degrees of typewriter imitation

7) Varying degrees of WYSIWYG - typewriter paradigm fades, and the "writers" are more closely connected to the final putput - in some cases straight to PDF, then print.

8) The dawn of semantical markup - machines start processing the content for various "purposes"

2) How did they learn to deal with computers in general and a WYSIWYG
system in particular?

Your point is that the process went through paradign shifts. It sure did. But steps 1 - 7 all rely on formatting to express semantics. It's used to formulate the semantics as the text is written, and it's used to express the semantics as the content is read.

Yes, you are missing a vital point. In general, typography, layout, and
design have always been used to communicate semantics. However, those
semantic relationships are only obvious to people. Sometimes, such as
apparently is the case with legislation, those semantics are only
obvious to a trained few. Creating rules to process the visual semantics
into a form that's easily read and understood by programs is a pretty
tough proposition. I used to write programs in Perl and Omnimark to do
just that sort of thing from word processor files. It's nasty and never
100% right.

I don't think I'm missing a point at all. Remember, I'm helping these people get this stuff into a machine-readable form. My point is that people are producing this content, and those people are a trained few. The service I provide is to make it so these people can generate the machine-readable format with as little upset to their existing knowledge of how to formulate and express these semantics. And I maintain it's a good thing to do.

I admit that I jumped from tech writer to writer in general. But I would like to see XML as the format for a significant portion of all the text that is now created. That means *much* more than people who write about computers. Also please don't think I oppose improvements to the process, forms-based writing, and changing the paradigm of what content it. But I don't think it's going to happen overnight. The first step is to determine whether XML will fit the bill. I think we all agree it stands a good chance. (So did SGML, but it was too hard for the marketing weenies to understand, so Microsoft never decided to take it on. Now that they're interested in XML, even my mother inlaw has heard about it.) The next step is to get more and more content into XML. Then we have to start processing it. With the processing will come new paradigms and expressions of these paradigms - to make the processing all the more accessible.
But for now, there are hosts of "writers" who want to get their material into XML, but don't want to re-learn how they think about the material. Nor do they need to - they already work in a semantically rich environment. That's my point.


SEE THE ALL NEW ROBOHELP X5 IN ACTION: RoboHelp X5 is a giant leap forward
in Help authoring technology, featuring Word 2003 support, Content Management, Multi-Author support, PDF and XML support and much more!
From a single set of Word documents, create online Help and printed
documentation with ComponentOne Doc-To-Help 7 Professional, a new yearly
subscription service offering free updates and upgrades, support, and more.

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as:
archiver -at- techwr-l -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.


Previous by Author: RE: Why WYSIWYG for XML???
Next by Author: RE: Why WYSIWYG for XML???
Previous by Thread: Re: Why WYSIWYG for XML???
Next by Thread: RE: Why WYSIWYG for XML???

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads